Extension services in Tajikistan are being provided by a range of service providers, including the public sector, private-sector firms, as well as both international and domestic non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The main trend by donor funded projects is a “pay-for-service” approach of providing advisory services. However, within this approach there are different strategies, ranging from being crop or livestock specific (i.e. focusing solely on key crops, such as cotton), expecting farmers to pay part or the full cost of these advisory services, or attempting to recover these costs in-directly through input supply or micro-credit firms. Also, most private sector firms and some NGOs are focused on more progressive farmers that have more land resources and/or are looking for more innovative ways to increase farm household (FH) income (e.g. early horticultural or tree crops for both local and/or export markets). In collecting information on the number of FHs currently being served by the different service providers in Tajikistan, it is estimated that between 5-10% of total FHs are being served and most of these are progressive farmers with domestic and/or export market access. In short, the vast majority of poor FHs, especially those headed by women farmers without market access, are not being served.
In assessing the trained and experienced agricultural officers at the Rayon (district) and Jamoat (sub-district) levels, it seemed clear that they are interested in providing advisory services to farmers in their respective areas. The key questions are what resources are needed and what kinds of training in extension and advisory services could enhance their capacity to serve small-scale men and women farmers, especially in relation to the Feed the Future (FTF) agenda. As outlined in the report, the agricultural offices at both the Rayon and Jamoats have little or no physical resources. For example, they have no government cars (but some have their own cars) or communication resources, such as Internet access, which could provide access to both technical and market information. In addition, all of them were trained in specific technical skills (e.g. agronomy, animal science, agricultural economics or veterinary medicine). Most of these agricultural officers are thinking “top-down” in terms of how they would expect to provide advisory services to farmers. While this issue is surmountable, it must be addressed when working through the public sector.